Sustainability might be sexy these days, but for New Zealand’s most sustainable business, it’s all about caring for the land.
Paraoa Bakehouse, awarded the top prize at this year’s Sustainable Business Network’s awards, has focused on sustainable practices for 12 years.
Owner Robert Glensor began making bread at home, mixing the ingredients in a bucket and baking four loaves at a time.
He said it evolved into farm-based produce and a Paraparaumu outlet, and he quickly realised organic was the way to go.
“We took small steps but it was clear from day one that we’d need to be organic, and certified organic at that,” Mr Glensor said.
“We needed to go the whole hog so the sustainability thing became very much part of the ethos.”
The Paraoa Bakehouse now produces 4000kg of food product a week, and Mr Glensor’s 5ha farm produces cows and calves, chickens for eggs, pork, bacon and ham “and the odd sheep”.
The bakehouse has cut its landfill waste to just 1kg a week, obtained biodegradable and recyclable packaging, uses renewable energy and removed preservatives from its food.
It is building new premises in Hamilton so food doesn’t have to be transported north from Paraparaumu, and gets all its ingredients from organic, sustainable sources.
Being a bakery there is “inevitably” bread left over, which is used to make breadcrumbs, croutons and biscotti. Some is donated to the local foodbank and some goes back to the farm as feed for the animals.
“It’s given us a whole new range of products as well as minimising waste, and there’s a symbiotic relationship between the business and the farm,” said Mr Glensor.
He said it was heartening to see an increased focus on sustainability, though New Zealanders had a tendency to be complacent about environmental practices.
“Organic has taken a bit longer to catch on than I thought it would,” he said. “I’m pleased people seem to be embracing the concept of sustainability – it’s one and the same as organic but it’s a bit sexier.”
This idea of sustainability and organic going hand in hand has even lent itself to a song.
At the awards Mr Glensor got up on stage with his ukulele and sang a song all about organic produce.
It was “a great honour” to be named the country’s most sustainable business and it was an opportunity to inspire his 18 staff and remind them of the vision for the business.
“My main thing is to encourage and promote the protection and care of those lands for sustainable agriculture,” Mr Glensor said.
“When you fly into New Zealand you see all the lovely green land and that’s our concern. We want to encourage and promote protection and care of our lands for sustainable agriculture, and support the farmers and growers who are doing things the right way.
“It’s good for them, it’s good for the planet, it’s good for us and it’s good for our customers.”
This year marks the sixth year of the SBN Awards, which began in 2003.
Other winners included Resene Paints in the large and corporate category, YHA Wellington City in the not-for-profit group, Express Couriers in the emerging large and corporate category, Kate Sylvester in the emerging small and medium group, and the Meridian building in Wellington in the most sustainable design category.
Wednesday Oct 15, 2008
By Brooke Donovan